Once a student achieves a certain level of reading proficiency, they tend to scan through text as fast as possible in order to complete the assignment. In order to extract meaning from written work, students must actively engage, and reading for speed simply won’t cut it. With coding reading, students use shorthand to signify the parts of a text that stand out most because they seem important, interesting or confusing. This compels students to form stronger connections with the material and have more meaningful discussions about the reading in small groups.
Using a Post-it® Easel Pad, make a reference key that clearly lays out what sorts of things you want students to look out for, and a simple symbol associated with each. As they read, students will mark parts of the text that match the codes: important part, funny part, confusing part, surprising part, etc.
Supply each student with Post-it® Page Markers. When something’s funny, mark it as funny; when something seems important, mark it as important. Before asking younger students to code on their own, you may want to introduce the technique by modeling the process aloud.
Once students have read the passage and finished coding, get together in small groups to discuss the material. Ask students to discuss where their codes overlapped, and where they differed.
Encourage students to discuss why they made individual coding choices. If there were parts students found confusing, allow them to explain to each other what was happening in the text. If they thought something seems particularly important, let them explain why they felt that way. Because coding helps to structure the reactions to texts you’ll be able to lead a richer discussion, and they’ll have the opportunity to articulate a wider range of reactions.